Target Centermass

10/3/2006

Tonight’s Good Reads and a Video

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:41 pm

Just a little link dump on what I feel I should recommend among my readings and watchings today.

97 Reasons Democrats Are Weak On Defense And Can’t Be Trusted To Govern In Wartime

Today’s Democrats are nothing like Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy, who with courage and decisive action kept on top of their jobs and aggressively confronted one national defense crisis after another.

Jimmy Carter, elected during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and (1) believing Americans had an inordinate fear of communism, (2) lifted U.S. citizens’ travel bans to Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia and (3) pardoned draft evaders.

Only 94 more to go as the column begins chronicling the ways in which the modern Democrats suffer in comparison to their historical predecessors, fine figures that I may have had domestic disagreements with but showed major spine on the international stage on our country’s behalf. Hat tip to Hyscience.

Big differences seen in party views on patriotism

There is no doubt about Americans’ patriotism. We consistently score higher than other countries on polls gauging how patriotic citizens are. We see this every Fourth of July as Americans proudly display the flag and sing the national anthem and watch fireworks.

However, there are some who are weary of our patriotism and they are not shy about telling us so. Howard Zinn, the leftist historian, advised us on the Fourth to “put away our flags” and to renounce “nationalism.” Mark Kurlansky, a popular historian, wrote how he was sick and tired of the Founding Fathers. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks opined that she just didn’t “understand the necessity for patriotism.”

I myself have no discomfort in questioning the patriotism — or wisdom and common sense, for that matter — of many of my fellow Americans on the far left. Hat tip to Wizbang!‘s Lorie Byrd, who receives a prominent plug in the piece.

The New Detainee Law Does Not Deny Habeas Corpus

There are innumerable positives in the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the new law on the treatment of enemy combatants that President Bush will soon sign. Among the best is Congress’s refusal to grant habeas-corpus rights to alien terrorists. After all, the terrorists already have them.

That the critique on this entirely appropriate measure has been dead wrong is given away by its full-throated hysteria. Typical was Richard Epstein, a distinguished constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, who admonished the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Bush administration and a compliant Republican Congress were unconstitutionally “suspend[ing]” the great writ. The New York Times editorial board, in its signature hyperbole, railed that “[d]etainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment.” What bunkum.

First, Congress cannot “suspend” habeas corpus by denying it to people who have no right to it in the first place.

Quite right. It should also be noted that the overwhelming bulk of the detainees in question should not legally fall under the domain of any protections based upon the Geneva accords to which the United States is actually a signatory. In other words, both under domestic and international law, screw ’em. Hat tip to Raven at And Rightly So.

Traitors to the Enlightenment

The first Western Enlightenment of the Greek fifth-century B.C. sought to explain natural phenomena through reason rather than superstition alone. Ethics were to be discussed in the realm of logic as well as religion. Much of what Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and the Sophists thought may today seem self-evident, if not at times nonsensical. But that century was the beginning of the uniquely Western attempt to bring to the human experience empiricism, self-criticism, irony, and tolerance in thinking.

The second European Enlightenment of the late 18th century followed from the earlier spirit of the Renaissance. For all the excesses and arrogance in its thinking that pure reason might itself dethrone religion — as if science could explain all the mysteries of the human condition — the Enlightenment nevertheless established the Western blueprint for a humane and ordered society.

But now all that hard-won effort of some 2,500 years is at risk. The new enemies of Reason are not the enraged democrats who executed Socrates, the Christian zealots who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity, or the Nazis who burned books. No, they are a pampered and scared Western public that caves to barbarism — dwarves who sit on the shoulders of dead giants, and believe that their present exalted position is somehow related to their own cowardly sense of accommodation.

What would a Socrates, Galileo, Descartes, or Locke believe of the present decay in Europe — that all their bold and courageous thinking, won at such a great cost, would have devolved into such cheap surrender to fanaticism?

Victor Davis Hanson is greatness once again, this time turning his guns on the Euro left and their current betrayal of the virtues of historical liberalism. Hat tip to Rightwingsparkle.

Video: “No Excuses For Terror”

Dovetailing nicely with the above VDH piece is a video in four parts from Britain’s Channel Five. So far I’ve only watched the first part but will catch the rest shortly. Already the piece does an excellent job of pointing out pointing out a wealth of historical hypocrisy coming from the Euro and global left, and I feel I can already label it as a must-see. Maybe it’s not a case of “know thy enemy,” but it certainly appears to be a case of “know those among you who play quite useful idiots for thy enemy.”

9/27/2006

Nato ‘Must Speed up Reaction’ to Taliban

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:31 pm

The British defense minister, deservedly peeved at the lack of timely support coming from the bulk of the non-English-speaking NATO members while his countrymen fight, criticized the alliance today for its inability to rapidly respond in the Afghan theater.

Nato takes too long to build forces for its missions and needs to be able to respond more rapidly to requests for troops, Des Browne, the UK’s defence minister, said on Wednesday.

Speaking the day before a meeting of defence ministers of the 26-member alliance in Slovenia that is set to discuss a military request for more Nato troops in Afghanistan, Mr Browne said Nato faced a short-term test in getting “boots on the ground or the equipment in to support them” in Afghanistan.

He said Nato was rising to the challenge in Afghanistan, where it has more than 20,000 troops in place, but has struggled to find extra forces to meet unexpectedly fierce resistance from the Taliban militia. But he said there were lessons to be learnt from the deployment and he would tell the other ministers that Nato needed to modernise the way it generated its forces.

“It needs to look at its structures and its bureaucracy so that it can generate force in a way that responds in real time to the needs. I think it’s becoming apparent in Afghanistan that the process of discussion is more complex than it needs to be,” he said in a telephone interview from Manchester where he was attending the Labour party’s annual conference.

UK officials said each country needed to look at its own operations but said too many Nato troops were still tied up in headquarters operations, for example.

Mr Browne said Nato’s operations in southern Afghanistan, both those led by the Canadians in Kandahar and the British in Helmand, had been successful, but work was needed in reconstruction to improve the way the country was governed and to build economic opportunities.

Mr Browne said Nato needed to build a more comprehensive approach to its missions, bringing civilian agencies more closely into its operations. Officials said this would require closer co-operation with other bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

Frankly, NATO needs a great many improvements that take precedence over any notion of closer cooperation with the UN. After all, we’re talking about an alliance that suffers delays while just creating a rapid reaction force.

9/26/2006

EU Pressed on Illegal African Immigrants

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:47 pm

It seems that the problem of illegal immigration is not one that is the sole possession of the United States. It also seems that, of countries currently facing the issue, some have voluntarily placed themselves in a position that forces them to seek externally for approval to deal with their own immigration conundrums.

The leaders of Italy, France and Spain sent a letter to the European Union on Monday, urging the bloc to approve measures to help them cope with the flood of illegal migrants from Africa.

EU justice and interior ministers differed over how to tackle the problem during two-day talks last week in Tampere, Finland, meant to boost efforts to achieve a common immigration and asylum policy by 2010.

Premier Romano Prodi, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and French President Jacques Chirac proposed organizing a conference in Libya between the EU and the African Union and asked for additional financing, Prodi’s office said in a statement.

The letter was sent to Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

“The basis for this joint initiative … is an awareness that the phenomenon requires measures that go well beyond those that are available to single member states, and requires a collective effort on the part of the EU,” the statement said.

France, Italy and Spain also asked that “special attention” be paid to plans for joint maritime patrols in the Mediterranean and urged financial and technical aid for the migrants’ countries of origin.

The three asked that the proposals be discussed at an informal summit of European leaders scheduled Oct. 20 in the Finnish town of Lahti.

Prodi’s office said the letter, which followed “intense contacts” between Rome, Paris and Madrid, also was signed by Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia.

More than 23,000 migrants have made dangerous ocean crossings from northwest Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands so far this year, leading to the drowning of many and a near-collapse of the system of holding facilities on the islands.

These may seem to be small numbers compared to what the U.S. is inundated with from our far too open borders. However, noticably absent from this story is the nature of these illegals. The countries of Europe are already having issues controlling the radical Islamist nature that has prevailed in many parts of the North African enclaves that have stemmed from their generous immigration policies; even less hope for assimilation can be assumed for those choosing to illegally enter into these three states. The possibility for improvement on the issue for France, Italy and Spain is reduced further by the fact that they feel the need to turn to the EU for “measures” to secure their own sovereign borders.

They crawdad to Islamist terror. They coddle local radical enclaves by handling riotous behaviour with an easily misinterpreted (or perhaps properly interpreted) kids-glove approach. They surrender the ability to enforce their own immigration policies to a “greater” collection of countries. These are no longer independent countries; rather, they are milestones to be checked off by our radical expansionist Islamist enemies.

Here’s hoping a touch of national spine arises amongst them before Europe is lost to Eurabia.

9/21/2006

Europe Pathetically Caves

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:08 pm

Gerard Baker mixes a night spent stranded at a NATO base in Afghanistan with several events of the last week, and his final result is not a cheery concoction for the future of Europe.

But the scale of Europe’s moral crisis is larger than ever. Opposing the war in Iraq was one thing, defensible in the light of events. But opting out of a serious fight against the Taleban, sabotaging efforts to get Iran off its path towards nuclear status, pre-emptively cringing to Muslim intolerance of free speech and criticism, all suggest something quite different.

They imply a slow but insistent collapse of the European will, the steady attrition of the self-preservation instinct. Its effects can be seen not only in the political field, but in other ways — the startling decline of birth rates across the continent that represent a sort of self-inflicted genocide; the refusal to confront the harsh realities of a global economy.

Many will greet this piece with knowing, resigned nods. Others will shrug off the negative outlook, denying the danger. Few if any on the continent will stir to do anything to confront the danger of their own demise anytime soon.

9/14/2006

An Amphibian, a Dictionary and an Alliance

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:48 pm

CDR Salamander takes a look at the current situation of NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan and struggles to find the right word.

Culminate is a strong word in this line of work.

[…]

In military terms, it can often be seen as a high-water mark. A point where a force has lost its ability to advance.

My concern is that Salamander may have the right word but the wrong verb tense. I’ve repeatedly expressed my concerns about the value of NATO in the post-Cold War era [see here and here for examples]. I even briefly held out a resurrection of personal optimism for the alliance after a commitment to the Afghan theater, but CDR Salamander points out that my hope for a better distribution of burden among our allies was misplaced.

Notice what troops are where. Notice where the fighting is (RC South, and RC East). Have we reached the point that only English speakers will die for NATO? Is that a fair alliance? Is this what you get for keeping (most of) them safe from Communism? At least Poland will try to step in some, after the fact. Maybe. They have a history of helping.

He provides more information, including some sweet military history links, before concluding the following:

This is gut check time NATO, and from what I see, you have a yellow stain running down your pants.

This is not too far from something I wrote not too long ago:

I’d say it’s not very complimentary to brag that NATO, an alliance based upon mutual defense, can heartily be relied upon for humanitarian disasters but is rather pick-and-choose on military assistance, always quite willing to find a reason to avoid exposure to potential danger. That is not a strong foundation for mutual defense. NATO really must be re-envisioned or cast away as a Cold War relic.

Culminates or culminated?

9/11/2006

Some of History’s Other 9/11s

Filed under: — Gunner @ 8:18 pm

For the military history buff, here are a few key events in time that befell the date September 11. The first was a famed moment in Scotland’s past while the latter two relate directly to our struggles today against an expansionist and violent Islamist movement.

1297: The Battle of Stirling Bridge [hat tip to Smash]

1565: Malta

1683: Vienna

9/5/2006

Danish Antiterror Police Seize 9 Men, Mostly Young Muslims

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:58 pm

Although it seems progress that the New York Times even included a mention of the suspects’ religion — you know, that peaceful one — in its headline, one must admit puzzlement at their “mostly” qualifier. Are they using it to draw a line on young or on Muslim? After all, the story that follows quickly points out the age range and religion of all the arrested men [emphasis added].

The Danish security police arrested nine suspects on Tuesday on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack after surveillance showed that several of the men had collected bomb-making material, Justice Minister Lene Espersen said.

An antiterror squad carried out a raid in Vollsmose, a poor immigrant district in Odense, at 2 a.m. The suspects appeared at a closed hearing on Tuesday, where two were released and the others were charged with plotting acts of terrorism.

No details of a plot were released. Investigators said it was too early to know how far the suspects’ plans had progressed. “With the general terror situation, the Danish Security Intelligence Service didn’t want to run any unnecessary risk,” said Lars Findsen, the service’s director general.

Ms. Espersen said that nearly all nine were Danish citizens, and that Denmark was their likely target.

“This is what is most alarming: these are Danish citizens living in Denmark that have been plotting a terror attack in Denmark,” she said. Danish intelligence officials said the men were between 18 and 35 and were Muslims who appeared to have been recently radicalized. Nearly all lived in Vollsmose, which has 10,000 residents representing more than a dozen nationalities, and has grappled with youth violence, high unemployment and difficulties integrating its large Muslim community.

Politiken, a leading Danish newspaper, reported that of the nine arrested, five are of Palestinian origin, one is of Kurdish origin, one is a Danish convert to Islam and two are natives of Iraq.

Many young Muslims here were alienated by the publication in a Danish newspaper of caricatures lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. In response, Danish embassies were set ablaze in Muslim countries and Danish goods were boycotted.

Anti-Muslim sentiment has grown, as well, with the rise of the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party, which holds 13 percent of the seats in Parliament. Its members have compared Muslims to “cancer cells.”

Imam Abu Bashar, a Muslim cleric in Odense, told The Associated Press that he feared Denmark might become a terrorist target because Osama bin Laden said he would punish the countries that have troops in Iraq.

“Denmark is on the list,” Imam Bashar said. “I am afraid of the message of Osama bin Laden, that he will do something against Denmark.”

Of course Denmark is on the target list for the radical Islamist. As a tip to the reader, the list reads as follows: the Earth.

As to the misleading headline, it may be a matter of a story evolving faster than a headline, or a case of sloppy headline writing that will soon be corrected. In any case, I elected to go ahead and grab a screen cap for kicks (click for larger version).

Mostly(?) Young Muslims

9/1/2006

September 1 Anniversaries

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:53 pm

Not moments in history to be celebrated but certainly to be remembered.

67 years ago today, Germany invaded Poland and triggered the Second World War. I provided a little more thought and information in my post last year. More reading on the invasion can be found here and here. Also, don’t miss Case White Directive No. 1, Hitler’s orders for the invasion.

Today also marks to two-year anniversary of the day when Chechen terrorists stormed a school in Beslan, taking more than 1200 hostages on a day Ralph Peters described as when the killers came for the kids. The Jawa Report marks the date and remembers the ensuing massacre that cost the lives of 344 civilians, including 186 children, here and graphically here.

8/25/2006

Tonight’s Good Reads

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:22 pm

Sorry, but I’m in a bit of a funk right now, but I’ll save the personal news behind that mood ’til another day. Given that, I think tonight I’ll just settle for a link-dump quickie.

Will The West Defend Itself?

Does the United States have the power to eliminate terrorists and the states that support them? In terms of capacity, as opposed to will, the answer is a clear yes.

Think about it. Currently, the U.S. has an arsenal of 18 Ohio class submarines. Just one submarine is loaded with 24 Trident nuclear missiles. Each Trident missile has eight nuclear warheads capable of being independently targeted. That means the U.S. alone has the capacity to wipe out Iran, Syria or any other state that supports terrorist groups or engages in terrorism — without risking the life of a single soldier.

Terrorist supporters know we have this capacity, but because of worldwide public opinion, which often appears to be on their side, coupled with our weak will, we’ll never use it. Today’s Americans are vastly different from those of my generation who fought the life-and-death struggle of World War II. Any attempt to annihilate our Middle East enemies would create all sorts of handwringing about the innocent lives lost, so-called collateral damage.

Such an argument would have fallen on deaf ears during World War II when we firebombed cities in Germany and Japan. The loss of lives through saturation bombing far exceeded those lost through the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

[…]

Of course, had there been a peace agreement with Japan and Germany, all it would have achieved would have been to give them time to recoup their losses and resume their aggression at a later time, possibly equipped with nuclear weapons.

[Hat tip to Rightwingsparkle]

Russian Footprints: What does Moscow have to do with the recent war in Lebanon?

The Kremlin may be the main winner in the Lebanon war. Israel has been attacked with Soviet Kalashnikovs and Katyushas, Russian Fajr-1 and Fajr-3 rockets, Russian AT-5 Spandrel antitank missiles and Kornet antitank rockets. Russia’s outmoded weapons are now all the rage with terrorists everywhere in the world, and the bad guys know exactly where to get them. The weapons cases abandoned by Hezbollah were marked: “Customer: Ministry of Defense of Syria. Supplier: KBP, Tula, Russia.”

Today’s international terrorism was conceived at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB, in the aftermath of the1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. I witnessed its birth in my other life, as a Communist general.

[hat tip to Smash]

The last thre stories kind of blend together into a bigger picture.

Hezbollah Didn’t Win

By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West. In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the picture is rather different.

Hoodwinked by Hezbollah

Well, since it’s all settled that Hezbollah has won, let’s just open a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer and drink to the health of the party’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, the Arab world’s latest Che Guevara.

But what kind of victory is this that, even by Hezbollah’s unexacting standards, must qualify as a major setback? In its public appraisals of the conflict, Hezbollah has ignored what Israel did to those parts of Lebanon the party cannot claim as its own. Its cries of triumph have been focused on the stubborn resistance put up by Hezbollah combatants in south Lebanon. Nothing has been heard from party leaders about the billions of dollars of losses in infrastructure; about the immediate losses to businesses that will be translated into higher unemployment; about the long-term opportunity costs of the fighting; about the impact that political instability will have (indeed has already had) on public confidence and on youth emigration; and about the general collapse in morale that Lebanon faces.

Let’s forget such trifles for a moment and use Hezbollah’s own benchmark. Even there, the evidence points to a net loss for the Shiite militia.

If this was a defeat, the Israelis must be praying for a lot more of them

IF ONLY Israel were as effective at public relations as at military operations, the results of the conflict on and around its border with Lebanon would be so much starker. As it is, however, the real meaning of the UN resolution that will start to come into force today is being widely misrepresented. Hezbollah is hailing a “victory” of sorts, albeit one of a presentational character. In a bizarre situation, Israeli politicians on both the hard Left and the hard Right appear to agree with the terrorists. All are profoundly mistaken.

What, after all, does this Hezbollah claim consist of? The organisation considers it a triumph that it has not been completely “destroyed” after just four weeks of fighting. It contrasts this with the dismal record of several Arab armies combined in 1967. It has not yet been disarmed and may not be formally neutralised in the near future. Nor has it been discredited on the Arab street, where it has enhanced its popularity. The Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah, thus proclaims himself a “new Nasser”.

As victories rank, not being destroyed, disarmed or discredited is not that impressive. It is hardly Henry V at Agincourt. The idea that the Six-Day War represents the military standard for the Arab world is a somewhat humiliating notion.

Hat tips for those last three stories goes out to Neptunus Lex and Ron Coleman of Dean’s World, who offer interesting pieces of their own on the matter here and here, respectively.

8/22/2006

Italy Steps in with Lebanon Troop Offer

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:46 pm

Bravo for the Italians and their willingness to show leadership after France unsurprisingly faltered.

Italy has said it would be willing to lead a force to police the ceasefire in southern Lebanon.

But Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema warned his country could only fulfil its offer if Israel respected the truce, now in its ninth day.

Israel says it shot three suspected Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon late on Monday, although this was denied by the militant group.

The incident shows just how fragile the ceasefire is, correspondents say.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said his country was willing to lead the planned international force – a task that was initially expected to go to France.

[…]

Mr D’Alema said Italy could offer up to 3,000 troops – the most substantial offer so far.

[…]

Italy’s “positive role” has been welcomed by the Lebanese cabinet, Information Minister Gazi Afridi said.

Israel has also said it would be happy if Italy led the force.

UN Resolution 1701 calls for 15,000 troops to be deployed to uphold the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

But some countries have been reluctant to commit troops because they fear their soldiers might get drawn into conflict if they are required to disarm Hezbollah directly.

France had been expected to lead the peacekeeping force, but offered only 200 troops after expressing concern about the lack of a clear mandate.

Deputy UN Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown said he was still hopeful that European countries, including France, would commit more forces.

Hezbollah was unfazed during the most recent UN deployment, sometimes setting up shop immediately adjacent to UN sites. Still, with a large chunk of Italians now planned to be in the mix, one must wonder if this will still be the case. Even the Hezbo terrorists have to have a limit on how much World Cup 2006 bragging can be endured.

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